Local News Archive
Print Issue: January 2, 1986
Slagles Honored As 'Persons Of The Year'
By Gretchen Keiser
The year 1985 would have to be recorded as one made memorable for Tom and Laurie Slagle of Griffin by very great difficulties.
The Slagles learned in March, 1985 that Laurie, who was in the early months of pregnancy with their eleventh child, had an inoperable form of cancer which is believed to spread particularly quickly and aggressively in pregnant women. With a bustling household of 10 children, ranging in age from 18 to two years old, and a family business which was struggling financially at the time, this news was devastating.
Tom Slagle, who is a permanent deacon in the Catholic Church, and Laurie, 37 years old, were presented with doctors recommendations, reflecting medical opinion, that Mrs. Slagle should have an abortion to heighten her chances to fight the cancer with chemotherapy and radiation.
But their faith especially, according to Tom Slagle, Lauries faith told them otherwise. They refused to abort the child Laurie was carrying and eventually went to court to win the right for Mrs. Slagle to receive chemotherapy and radiation treatments while pregnant although the effect on the unborn child was uncertain.
They knew the medical prognosis was based on the best information doctors had available. As a hospital chaplain in Griffin, Tom Slagle knew firsthand the reality of cancer. Yet the teaching of the Catholic Church told them that even in this situation it was not morally right to abort the child, but that instead, it was right to treat the mother as aggressively as possible medically and try to save both. More simply even than that, their faith told them to go forward despite all the signs to the contrary. Tom Slagle said of his wife: It wasnt my decision. It was her decision. She had the faith to say, it cant be.
Their faith prevailed.
Permitted by the court to proceed with chemotherapy and radiation treatments until shortly before her due date, Laurie Slagle gave birth September 21, 1985 to a son, Jonathan, whose name means gift from God. The baby, according to the family pediatrician, is healthy and appears unaffected by the treatments given to Mrs. Slagle while pregnant. Laurie Slagle, also, has been remarkably free from side effects and illness while undergoing treatment, which resumed after the birth of Jonathan. Before Christmas, sounding cheerful and busy with family preparations for the holiday, she said keep praying.
The birth of Jonathan was half a miracle, she said. Now we need the other half.
When the Slagles story was published in The Georgia Bulletin on November 7, 1985 it provoked many comments from readers inspired by the faith of the family and their commitment to live by that faith no matter what apparently fearful consequences loomed before them.
In a decade when technology and self-fulfillment are exalted, the Slagles weighed those options and decided otherwise.
For their inspiring faith and for their example as Catholic Christians committed to living faithfully in all circumstances, both joyful and painful, the Georgia Bulletin salutes Tom and Laurie Slagle and chooses them as Persons of the Year for 1985.